Since the first unveiling of the new +41 crystals being a part of the Free-to-Play system, many in the community raised concerns. The issues brought up range from destroying low-level Artificing, altering low-level PvP progression, Flashpoint gear progression, and more. To say this addition is a contentious one would be understating it. To help in understanding why this will occur, Principal Lead Systems Designer Damion Schubert took to the forum to answer community concerns.
Quote from Damion Schubert
So the other bit of discussion to have is about the color crystals. I thought in this case that I would start the discussion with all of you, so that you could understand our logic and guide our thinking.
Currently, these crystals appear in cartel packs with a level 10 requirement, and on the store with a level 35 requirement, in order to access stats roughly equal to a standard level 50 color crystal. It's worth noting that color crystals are something that the itemization team stopped improving the itemization of shortly after launch, because people really hated losing their signature lightsaber color because it was no longer Best in Slot. We have, incidentally, seriously entertained removing all itemization from color crystals entirely (it makes many problems go away for us), but we didn't have the time to make such a large change on itemization before this patch went live.
The reason why we put these in with low level requirement is pretty simple: getting an item you can't use in the Cartel Packs really sucks. It's the same reason we pursued the tech that allowed us to make mounts adaptive - we expect a very large influx of new players when we launch free to play, and those guys opening cartel packs to get items they can't use for months (literally, for casual players!) is a negative experience, not a positive one.
So after discussing with the balance team, we decided to put these in with lower level requirements, with the following reasoning:
- The balance math shows the bump to be pretty good at level 10 (not something the balance team was uncomfortable with, though), but pretty unremarkable by the time you hit, say, level 30 or so. Since pretty much open world PvP doesn't happen at those low levels, the impact on open world PvP is pretty much negligable.
- The way the math works out, the benefit pretty much washed away by the bolster system in warzones, which means there is no significant advantage there.
- The crystals are exactly as good as end-game color crystals, which means they have ZERO impact on endgame activities (level 50 ranked warzones, operations, heroic flashpoints, etc). We're still philosophically avoiding putting any stat advantage at this level that subscribers cannot earn through reasonable normal play.
- The fact that these items are fully tradeable means that players who do think there's a balance advantage here can acquire them on the GTN for pure credits without spending a single cartel coin.
The net result of all of this is that slapping one of these color crystals in your saber at level 10 effectively makes levelling from levels 10 up somewhat easier, with the benefits tapering off quickly as the player levels up, and eventually zeroing out altogether. We felt, in general, that that was okay. The focus groups that we ran also seemed to think it was okay, as long as we avoided endgame power.
We are more than open to having a discussion about this and other options here (with the proviso that we have very limited time to make changes before this goes live!) if this continues to be perceived as an issue.
Head to the official forum for the thread in full. For now though, what are your thoughts on the matter?